NFL

Paton replaces Elway in Broncos GM role

By Sports Desk January 13, 2021

The Denver Broncos have hired Geroge Paton as their new general manager.

Paton steps into the role after Broncos legend John Elway ceded control of the front office this month.

Previously vice president of football operations/general manager, Elway stepped down from the GM role after the Broncos missed the playoffs for the fifth successive season in 2020.

And the Broncos have turned to Paton, formerly vice president of player personnel/assistant general manager for the Minnesota Vikings, as his successor.

Paton spent 14 seasons in the Vikings' front office and Elway believes he is more worthy of stepping up to the lead role for the Broncos.

Elway, now president of football operations, said: "Early in this process, it became clear why George has been such a coveted GM candidate for so many years.

"He is a proven evaluator who knows every detail of leading football operations. With his experience in all aspects of the job - the college and pro sides, salary cap, trades, working with the head coach and bringing the staff together - George is more than ready to succeed in this role.

"George has waited and worked for the right opportunity, which shows that he is smart and serious about winning. We're thrilled to name George Paton as general manager of the Denver Broncos."

Paton added: "It is an honour to be named general manager of an iconic franchise with a championship tradition like the Denver Broncos.

"This organisation has great resources, tremendous people, a talented young core of players and an outstanding coaching staff.

"In many ways, I feel like this team is a sleeping giant. For me, it is the right place and the right time for this opportunity.

"While it is difficult to leave the Vikings, the relationships I enjoyed in Minnesota are for life. I am truly grateful for the Wilf family, Rick Spielman, Rob Brzezinski, Mike Zimmer and the entire Vikings organisation. Thank you for treating us like family.

"I believe in hard work, the grind and not taking any shortcuts to achieve our goals. Drafting and developing players is the number one priority. We will be aggressive - but not reckless - in adding talent to our roster."

The biggest decision Paton faces this offseason surrounds how the Broncos will move forward at quarterback.

Drew Lock, a second-round pick in 2019, endured a disappointing 2020 campaign, completing just over 57 per cent of his passes and throwing 16 touchdown passes along with 15 interceptions, the highest number of picks in the NFL.

Lock's struggles were seen as the latest example of Elway's inability to find a replacement for Peyton Manning, with whom Denver won the Super Bowl in the 2015 season, the last in which they made the playoffs. For a talented roster to realise its potential, Paton must succeed where Elway failed.

Related items

  • Allen makes case for defense as Johnson steals the show for Bills Allen makes case for defense as Johnson steals the show for Bills

    Josh Allen praised Buffalo's defense after the Bills clinched a place in the AFC Championship Game - then revealed how he played a part in Taron Johnson's record-tying touchdown.

    The Bills overcame the Baltimore Ravens 17-3 on Saturday to progress in the NFL playoffs, quarterback Allen throwing a touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs in what was a hard-fought victory.

    That score put Buffalo 10-3 ahead in the third quarter, though the Ravens threatened to respond with a drive of their own that put them in range to score.

    However, cornerback Johnson picked off a pass from quarterback Lamar Jackson in the end zone and then returned the ball 101 yards, creating clear daylight between the teams in a low-scoring contest.

    Buffalo will be involved in the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 1994; they will either travel to the Kansas City Chiefs or host the Cleveland Browns next Sunday.

    "This was a fun one to be part of. There are some things we can clean up but, at the end of the day, it's the playoffs: you win or go home," Allen told the media.

    "Our defense stepped up. Taron Johnson made the play that just changed the game. Unbelievable.

    "We've got to turn our focus to the Browns or Chiefs next week - and that's what we were going to do."

    Johnson tied the NFL record for the longest interception return for a touchdown in a playoff game, matching Green Bay's George Teague, who achieved the feat for the Packers in the 1993 Wild Card round against the Detroit Lions.

    Allen divulged how he played a minor role in helping his team-mate produce a play that will live long in the memory.

    "I saw him come out of the end zone with a lot of bodies around him, and usually you want them to stay in. I thought he was going to get tackled at the five or the 10," he said.

    "I tell you what, for Tre'Davious White to go ahead and get a block on Lamar, spring him free, was unbelievable. You practice for those situations.

    "I'm going to give myself a pat on the back, as in practice I go up behind him and try to punch the ball out. So Taron had that extra sense to look back, feel that someone was coming and to hold onto the ball.

    "It was an unbelievable play, one of those that will be remembered for a really long time."

  • NFL Playoffs: Bills reach first AFC Championship since 1994 NFL Playoffs: Bills reach first AFC Championship since 1994

    The Buffalo Bills booked their spot in the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 1994 thanks to a 17-3 win over the Baltimore Ravens.

    Not since reaching Super Bowl XXVII had the Bills featured in the AFC title decider, but second-seeded Buffalo ended that 27-year drought after downing the Ravens on Saturday.

    The Bills used a 14-0 third quarter to progress in the NFL playoffs as the Ravens – seeded fifth – were held scoreless in the second half in windy Buffalo.

    Bills quarterback Josh Allen finished 23-of-37 passing for 206 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions, while he was sacked twice.

    Ravens star Lamar Jackson was 14 of 24 for 162 yards, no touchdowns and an interception before he was ruled out with concussion against the Bills.

    The Ravens were made to pay for their inefficient kicking in the opening quarter, which saw Justin Tucker miss two field goals.

    Tucker was 11-of-11 on field-goal attempts inside 50 yards in his postseason career, but he was 0-2 on such field goals against Buffalo.

    Buffalo's Tyler Bass also missed a field goal, but he managed to convert a 28-yard attempt to give the Bills a 3-0 lead at the end of the opening quarter.

    Tucker made no mistake from 34 yards to level the scores at half-time before the Bills took control in the third quarter.

    Allen threw a three-yard pass to star team-mate Stefon Diggs with less than 10 minutes to play and Taron Johnson all but ended Baltimore's hopes with a dazzling 101-yard interception return during the closing stages of the period.

    Reigning MVP Jackson was ruled out of the fourth quarter due to concussion after taking a hit from Bills defensive end Trent Murphy on the final play of the third period.

     

    Turning point – Bills pull away in third

    The Bills and Ravens could not be separated until the game was blown open in the third quarter.

    Allen and Diggs combined for the showdown's first TD before Johnson's electric run essentially sealed Baltimore's fate in front of 6,700 fans amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    Johnson matches record

    Buffalo's Johnson tied the record for longest intercepted return touchdown in a playoff game, according to NFL Research. Green Bay Packers defensive end George Teague also returned an interception 101 yards for a TD against the Detroit Lions in 1993.

    Per Stats Perform, the Bills-Ravens game became the first postseason game where there were three missed field goals in the first half since the 1992 AFC Championship Game between the Bills and Denver Broncos.

    What's next?

    Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs or Cleveland Browns are next up for the Bills in the AFC Championship Game on January 24.

    The Ravens, meanwhile, will have a busy offseason following back-to-back exits in the Divisional Round.

  • Packers' Rodgers relishing first NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field Packers' Rodgers relishing first NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field

    Aaron Rodgers is relishing the opportunity to feature in a long-awaited NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field after the Green Bay Packers downed the Los Angeles Rams.

    Rodgers will play a conference title game at home for the first time in his stellar career following the Packers' 32-18 win over the Rams in the NFL playoffs on Saturday.

    Top MVP candidate Rodgers finished 23-of-36 passing for 296 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and no sacks, while the Super Bowl champion rushed for another TD.

    Either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or New Orleans Saints await the Packers in Green Bay on January 24 – the winner progressing to the Super Bowl – and star quarterback Rodgers is excited.

    "It means a lot. [Former Packers receiver] Jordy [Nelson] and I talked about it years ago. Made a lot of starts in this league without hosting the NFC Championship," Rodgers – whose four previous NFC Championship appearances have been on the road – told reporters when asked what it meant to host the title game in Green Bay.

    "Hopefully it is a little colder than it was tonight. The fans were special and the energy was special. There is a home-field advantage. The fact we get to host, can't say sleep in our own bed because there is still an antiquated idea of staying in a hotel the night before a game instead of your warm, cosy six-night a week bed. I know COVID-19 is involved in that. I'm still salty about that antiquated idea.

    "But it is meaningful to have fans at the game. Hopefully we can get even more if this worked out. It will be exciting. Enjoy this tonight, celebrate and to watch tomorrow, knowing whoever wins is coming to our place."

    Amid the coronavirus pandemic, less than 9,000 fans were allowed to attend the Packers-Rams matchup in Green Bay, where Rodgers recorded his 12th career playoff game with 250-plus passing yards and two-plus passing touchdowns.

    According to NFL Research, the only other payers in NFL history with 10-plus such games are Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (17), Joe Montana (12) and New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees (10).

    Rodgers – whose Green Bay are eyeing their first Super Bowl crown since 2010 – also eclipsed Brett Favre for most playoff completions (439) in Packers history.

    Per Stats Perform, Rodgers has thrown for multiple passing TDs in eight consecutive postseason games, tied with Joe Flacco for the longest streak in history. Now with 233 in his career, Rodgers also passed Favre for the most touchdown passes thrown at Lambeau Field (regular and postseason).

    "It felt like 50,000 when we ran out of the tunnel, it really did," Rodgers said. "It was such a special moment. Forgot how much you truly, truly miss having a crowd there ... it felt like, 50,000, 60,000."

    Rodgers added: ''I'm definitely a little emotional, just thinking about what we've been through. It got me emotional with the crowd out there today.''

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.